President Obama made his case for the American intervention in Libya tonight at the National Defense University, reports Politico, citing the perfect storm of international support, Libyan rebels' pleas, the United States' ability to avoid committing ground troops—and its obligation to prevent genocide. Some highlights:
- On his decision: Obama says he acted "after consulting" congressional leaders and, "Tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gadhafi’s deadly advance."
- On the US cost: “Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation—to our military, and to American taxpayers—will be reduced significantly.”
- On his urgency: "As president, I refused to wait for the images of mass slaughter before taking action." Further, "We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi—a city nearly the size of Charlotte—could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world. It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen."
- On North Africa and Middle East protests: “Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way."
- On regime change: "History is not on Gadhafi's side," but the United States will not remove him militarily.
- On spreading democracy: "Wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States. ... It can be tempting to turn away from the world. ... But our own future is brighter if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom."